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Video: Payroll Tax Fight

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    >> the public is fed up with the gridlock. when asked to rank this year's congress in terms of overall performance, 13% of americans called it below average. 42% described it as one of the worst ever, the worst showing for any congress since we started asking this question more than 20 years ago. think about it. 75% of the country calls this congress below average or one of the worst. senator claire mccaskill is a democrat from missouri and joins me now. we did the little switch there with luke. senator, let me ask you this. the basic premise seems to be republicans say, okay, democrats, we'll give you the unemployment extension, we'll give you the extension of the payroll tax holiday. we want keystone, and i understand there's other things, but they want the keystone pipeline . my guess if you send them back a bill that got rid of that other stuff you didn't like but gave them keystone, done, everybody goes home for christmas .

    >> well, let's hope we can negotiate something like that. i think if i were going to critique harry reid this morning i really wish we would stop with this dead on arrival , not going to go there and begin to have language like we're going to take a look at it and see if there's anything that we can agree on here and over the next couple of days try to come to an agreement. that's what's really going to happen, and i don't know why this place is so set on, you know, looking like we're combative all the time. there -- i believe there will be a compromise here, and i want to point out on this keystone pipeline , todd, that -- chuck, that the reason that this thing stopped was not washington. the reason this thing stopped was because the people of nebraska wanted it to stop.

    >> right.

    >> this is about state's rights, this is about the tenth amendment. you know, these guys are so convenient about, you know, hollering about state's rights until it actually is in practice, and i think the reason we have to slow down on the pipeline is not that anybody is saying the pipeline shouldn't happen but we have to respect the rights of nebraska .

    >> now where are you on this, and if nebraska is in now, if they feel like their concerns have been answered, are you supportive of this pipeline?

    >> you know, i would certainly take a look at it. if state rights are being protected and if this is going to be something maybe that we try to jump start the approval process, make it go more quickly. i mean, i think there's a variety of ways that we can look at this, but the bottom line is the reason that we feel so strongly about this is that while i'm perfectly willing to raise taxes a smudge on multi-millionaires, i'll be gosh darned if i think it's a good idea to raise taxes on people who are working as hard as they know how right now and barely making it work, and i just think it's the wrong time to raise taxes on the people who need it the most.

    >> you think it's appropriate that keystone is included in this?

    >> i -- you know, i would prefer that we not play these games, you know. i would prefer that, you know, i think it's ironic. i remember when john boehner stood some place with a book in his hand promising the american people last fall that they would never include things in important must-pass bills that were not relevant to the subject matter, and they have got everything in here, from you know, making sure that people who are 60 years old who have lost their job after 25 years have to get drug tested if they want to get unemployment benefits ? you know, they have got all kinds of stuff in this thing that is really bizarre to me, and i think that they violated that pledge they made last fall. i think we ought to get to work, find what we can agree on and get this thing done, and, you know, you talked about the low approval of congress. one of the reasons this approval is so low is because we have a very divided congress. the people sent some very extreme folks to washington a year ago, and they are clashing with really some of the folks frankly to my left.

    >> where are you -- i know that you've worked on this -- on this bipartisan bill on defense ear marks, but where are you on the sequester, this idea that the agreement never came up with and now there's all this chatter that somehow the defense cuts that have been proposed will get restored in another way. would you ever support any version of that?

    >> i think it's a good way to drive our approval rating to zero if we immediately say well, never mind, the enforcement mechanism we put in place ten minutes ago we're going to ignore now. i think it's a bad idea to talk about trying to drive a mack truck through the sequester enforcement mechanism. i think what's a better idea is to use the pressure of the sequester to keep us at the table. i had a meeting just last week with a group of republicans and a group of democrats trying to come up with a way forward on our long-term debt problem. i think if the rhetoric around here quit focusing so much on elections and started focusing on compromise and let's see what we can get done, it might be amazing what we might find under the christmas tree this year.

    >> individually, senator, and i hate to use this phrase with all due respect, individually i hear this from senators of both parties. why don't we ever see it collectively? explain that issue. individually every one of them, from mitch mcconnell to harry reid , to you, to bob corker , you know, i can pick out a number of senators collectively we get what we get.

    >> well, i think what the problem is that everyone is using the rhetoric of trying to get along but, i mean, sometimes not so much. i mean, you know, we had mitch mcconnell refusing to allow to us fix a typo in a bill by unanimous consent. last night, you know, i don't think it's great that instead of using language like i'm going to sit down with the speaker and see what we can come up it was dead on arrival , you know. this is dead before it got here. you know, we've got to quit this, you know, kind of posturing that tells the american people that we'd rather fight than get along.

    >> all right. democrat from missouri, claire mccaskill . senator, thanks very much for coming on this morning.

    >> thank you.

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